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By Vineeta Menon

Along with the name of Kummanam Rajasekharan goes an adage, “Kummanam is one of those few persons who command the same amount of reverence as they enter the Kerala Secretariat- right from the security personnel to the Chief Minister.” The name and persona stand more than familiar in the state- among the downtrodden, landless, Dalits, those sidelined and deprived of social justice, Kummanam Rajasekharan is a reverential figure that is almost deified. Now, after having assumed the post of presidency of Bharatiya Janata Party’s Kerala chapter, Kummanam has set his agenda clear and straight- “BJP aims to rule Kerala, not to open its account but to rule the state by winning more than 71 seats.”

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Kummanam Rajashekharan

In a state that has till date been ruled and ravaged by Congress and Communists alike, it is imperative that the nationalist party BJP begins its innings. A formidable task, it requires a stalwart to garner nationalist forces of the state and yoking together political stake holders. He minces no words in lashing outright at the LDF and UDF either. “There’s polarization of anti-BJP parties in the state. The Congress and Left forces have come together to oppose BJP. Now, there are only two political forces in Kerala – BJP and anti-BJP or those who support Narendra Modi and those who oppose him. At a time when corruption and the anguish of those belonging to Dalit communities rule the roost, common man can easily gauge why the ruling front and opposition have joined hands to pin down their political opponents. There is deep rooted fear if an axe would fall on base of the adjustment politics which is being staged here since time immemorial. The people of Kerala can easily comprehend the move being made. Time is not far away when those who promote political ostracism will be given a befitting reply by public.”

Before assuming the post of state presidency of BJP, Kummanam has been credited being one of the individuals who fostered the growth of RSS in Kerala. He played the most important and pivotal role in the historical ‘movement against Nilakkal temple land encroachment’ and ‘Paliyam Declaration’ pronounced by prominent Hindu religious scholars. In 1987, he resigned from government services and became a full-time Pracharak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, while being instrumental in spearheading Kerala’s Vishwa Hindu Parishad chapter, Kshetra Samrakshana Samiti, Balasadanams, and Ekal Vidyalayas. He was instrumental in bringing together several spiritual organizations and encouraging them to work for the improvement of Hindus. He has also donned the roles of secretary of state chapter of Hindu Aikya Vedi, state joint secretary of Viswa Hindu Parishad and later its organizing secretary, general secretary of Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajam and chairman of Janmabhumi Daily.

Known for disarming simplicity and unassuming, down-to-earth nature, Kummanam forged into limelight with Nilakkal agitation, when the Christian congregation entered a pact with the ruling Congress party and decided to embark on a ploy of usurping land from Nilakkal, famed for its temple of Lord Shiva. The drama began with the ‘discovery of a cross’ on the Kerala Farming Corporation’s (KFC) private land, just 200 m from the Nilakkal Mahadeva Temple. The congregation then sent Father Mathew Anthiyakulam, chief priest of the nearby Pambav Valley church, along with a crew of two jeep-loads of followers to the place, erected a thatched shed and initiated daily prayers. They further put on air, the fabricated myth of the place having been the venue of a church constructed by St Thomas. The crusade for a new church was given momentum by the formation of Nilakkal Action Council under the auspices of All Kerala Catholic Congress, led by rubber tycoon MD Joseph. And when Chief Minister K Karunakaran granted one hectare of land for a church at Nilakkal, the Hindu community was more than shocked, for the land encroached upon the temple property.

The cross was brand new without even a trace of mud on it, with fresh chisel markings. Moreover the area being under intensive cultivation, no cross would have remained underground for so long. The aim was clear- destruction of Sabarimala, where the first step would be grabbing of Nilakkal under the pretext of a cross. It was at this juncture that Kummanam made his mark in the socio-cultural life of Kerala, when Hindus grouped under Vishal Hindu Sammelan to fight the Catholic demand for a church. Following this Kummanam was appointed general convener of Nilakal Action Council in 1983, a joint committee of all Hindu organizations in Kerala. In 1985, he became general secretary of Hindu Munnani. This was the beginning and there was no looking back for Kummanam. After being appointed General Secretary of Guruvayoor Temple Action Council in 1988, he successfully led the agitation to remove Jacob Thampi from managing committee of Guruvayoor Temple. In the same year, he led agitations against Elavoor Thookkam and Palazhi untouchability.

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In 2003, Kummanam lead a mass agitation against the Marad massacre. Marad beach stood witness to one of the most gruesome communal riots in Kerala in 2002, when an irrelevant skirmish between two groups of fishermen led to a massive Hindu-Muslim communal clash. Known as ‘first Marad killings’, it claimed the lives of five fishermen. The place again witnessed yet another blood bath in 2003, which claimed nine lives and injured many. Hindu Aikya Vedi, under the leadership of Kummanam took up the issue and campaigned against the communal elements in the area. He was monumental in ushering in peace and harmony to the fisher town.

And in 2012, Kummanam was appointed as Chief Patron (Mukhya Rakshadhikari) of Aranmula Heritage Village Action Council which successfully led a mass agitation against KGS Aranmula International Airport project by Greenfield International that aimed at the destruction of the Hindu heritage hamlet of Aranmula. However, these form only a fragment of Kummanam’s unending saga of selflessness, which exposed to the world, his social conscience and humanitarian spirit.

Armed with brilliant oratory skills, Kummanam’s tryst with politics does not have a nascent twang either. His political lineage began when he jolted both UDF and LDF in 1987, when Kummanam as Hindu Munnani’s candidate finished as runner-up in Thiruvananthapuram East constituency. Following the new responsibility placed on his shoulders now, 28 years later in 2015, Kummanam announced that his responsibility is to work for lakhs of people who have been denied justice for several decades under the UDF and LDF. “It is a huge responsibility to lead the party to power and I accept it courageously. The values inculcated by social leaders like Sree Narayana Guru, Chattampi Swamikal, Ayyankali and Pandit Karuppan have been long eroded in all sectors.  A social transformation in all sectors is the need of the hour and the support I am getting from my party workers has given me confidence for the work ahead,” he said.

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The LDF and UDF appear severely jolted at the latest political developments blooming in Kerala. The Congress is worried if BJP will fly away with the state’s Hindu vote share? Ramesh Chennithala, the state home minister is said to have written to the party’s high command about BJP being a force to reckon with. An Economic Times report quoted Chennithala stating thus: “Unfortunately, the BJP has increased its presence in a big way. In Trivandrum Corporation, BJP has come second to Left. Most of the municipalities and gram panchayats opened account. BJP has become a force after this local body election.” Kerala, reeling under oppression of Dalits, scheduled castes and tribes by the ruling parties, rocked by the solar scandal and reeking with noxious vapors of corruption, thanks to the politics of convenience practiced by UDF and LDF, has set the stage for Bharatiya Janata Party to make a high impact in the forthcoming 2016 Assembly polls. The party has displayed premium performance in the recently concluded civic polls. All this, with the latest master stroke of Kummanam Rajasekharan taking over party presidency is likely to open up a plethora of political antics by LDF and UDF in a desperate bid for survival.

(The author is a Social Media Activist and ‘I Support Namo’ team Coordinator)

Kummanam – A Neta Rare!
By R Sajan

I happened to meet Kummanam Rajasekharan last week. It was only our second meeting. On both occasions, we had discussed Sabarimala matters; and he did not share my views on most things. But this time, he suddenly asked me whether I would like to visit Thiruvannamalai with him. I agreed because he was after all, MD of a big newspaper, among other things; and it would be a posh trip. An AC car would be certain, security assistants would look after all movements.

The next day, I was shocked to find him and his companion CG Rajagopal, the Media Head of the VHP, inviting me to join them in the Second Class compartment of a night train. Morning found us getting fresh in the Retiring Room of Erode Station, not even single room Hotel accommodation. Into Jolarpettai Passenger to Samalpatti, and two hours of ordinary bus from there to Thiruvannanmalai;  Rajagopal helping both of us older men with our bags!

Lunch at the Aum Amma Ashram, of plain rice and a vegetable curry; but cooked and served benevolently by the Amma’s only Attendant and Manager, Swami Samahithananda, with us seated on the floor. Amma’s rare Darshan, though it was not a Darshan Day, and Kummanam arranges a simple garland and fruits beautifully on a steel plate, to offer it very reverently and gracefully to the Amma. Amma blesses us and we leave for the Town, me looking forward to a Hotel room with TV and amenities, preferably AC.

My friends take me instead to the District Kaaryaalay of the RSS. Smart RSS boys solicitously welcome us. The VIP Room is forced on me by Kummanam who sleeps on the floor without a bed along with the others in the Hall. The VIP Room has a cot, no bed! But I fall into sound sleep immediately.

Early morning, and we go around the Town, to the Arunachala temple, Ramana Ashram etc. No AC Car to travel. There are three TVS 50s. Kamaraj, the District Karyavah, rides one with CG Rajagopal on the pillion; Sewa Pramukh for two States, Padmakumar carries Kummanam; and Pavendran carries me because I want to move slower. Midday meal at Ramanasram’s free food offer. Back to Kaaryaalay for a nap and into a Bus to Salem; and second class again on a Train to Ernakulam. Kummanam carefully wakes me up at 3. 30 AM to get down at Aluva.

I have journey-ed with many VIPs and journalists, minor and big time. But this was an eye-opener adventure for me. What did I get out of the trip other than the spiritual glow? I usually take an Auto or Taxi to my house at Desam; or ask someone to bring the car. This time however, I wait at the Bus Stand till 5.30 for the Bus. At home, the wife rushes to make tea for me. I tell her to go back to sleep; tea can wait till the usual morning hour.

A Humble Leader
By Arjun CM

A couple of years ago, Hindu Aikya Vedi decided to submit a petition, pointing out the various issues glaring at the face of Sabarimala, which included matters of keeping the sacred hill clean. It was time when matters of Sabarimala were under surveillance of Kerala High Court. A Special Commissioner appointed by the Court, Justice Gopalakrishna Pillai, a Judge from Pathanamthitta was to oversee matters related to the same.

The decision of Hindu Aikya Vedi was to hand over the petition to the Special Commissioner, in person. The entire team, along with Kummanam reached the Judge’s sprawling camp house. The Judge accorded a cordial welcome and heard the grievances patiently. Finally, after the task was over, as the team was about to leave, the Judge said, “Raja, Mother is not well. The eye surgery is just over. She has been inquiring about you.”

It was then that the team came to know that Justice Gopalakrishnan was none other than Kummanam’s own brother. He made fond inquiries about his brother’s own health and did his best to persuade his brother to stay at the palatial camp house for the day. Kummanam’s response is what marks his humility.

“It is not right for me to spend the night in the official, government quarters. My co-workers have made provisions for my stay,” he said and took leave of his brother.

That night the entire team saw Kummanam spend the night on the thatched roof of the book stall put up by Viswa Hindu Parishad.

A message of Gratitude
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Source: Kerala’s New Hope – Aseema